Challenges in Yemen

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Yemen economic advancement depends to a great extent on its natural resource base; on agriculture and mining. Agriculture forms an important sector in the nation’s economy and much of the economic activities depend on exploitation of fresh water resources, marine resources, and its soil and oil wealth.

The natural resource base is facing serious challenges. The rapidly growing population at the rate of 3% annually accelerates pressure on scarce natural resources. Demand increases on water resources, foodstuff and other products of natural resources.

People in Yemen exploit soil, vegetation and water without paying adequate attention to the sustainability of these resources. Unplanned expansion of urban centers exceeds, in some places, the carrying capacities of available resources to meet new demand. It also causes sanitation and waste management problems and puts pressure on social services, in addition to loss of biodiversity and agricultural land.

Environmental degradation and climate change impacts also continue to be key development challenges in to the country limiting available choices for the poor and impeding satisfactory progress towards human development, achievements of MDGs, and sustainability.

Based on the climate change studies’ findings Yemen has been identified as one of the countries with climate change impacts. Climate change impacts on water resources will increase water scarcity affecting the livelihoods of the rural population and reduce agricultural productivity.

Increased sea level will lead to the deterioration of wetlands and coastal mangrove, infrastructural damage and seawater intrusion. This will adversely affect fishing communities, agriculture productivity, beaches, ecotourism potential, coral reef and bleaching, and displace coastal areas population.

The prevailing problems of water shortage in arid and semi-arid areas which include Yemen are low rainfall and uneven distribution throughout the season, which makes livelihoods highly further vulnerable especially under changing climate conditions.

In addition, Yemen has experienced very rapid changes in water use which dramatically contribute to deepening the challenge of critical water imbalance in the country.

The subsistence farmers and pastoralist are considered to be the most vulnerable communities across the rural rain-fed areas in Yemen. Their livelihoods vulnerability is extremely sensitive to unfavorable climate conditions due to lacking of adequate producing assets, poverty, and powerlessness leading to increased risks of food insecurity across rural rain-fed areas. Having extremely sensitive livelihoods, climate change will certainly make them poorer, and further vulnerable.


How we address these challenges

Alt text for imageDates in Hadhramout

We support the Government of Yemen in addressing global environmental issues at the local levels, building resilience to climate change and mainstreaming climate change into development policies.

We promote livelihoods approaches in community based management of protected areas through enhancing local capacities; encouraging green job opportunities and eco-tourism; enhancing general public and school children’s awareness on environmental sustainability and protected areas.

Also, in UNDP we aim to make rainfed farmers and pastoral communities more resilient to key climate-induced risks, especially in the context of anticipated water shortages through our large scale project on climate proofing and water harvesting.

In order to protect the unique biodiversity and to support sustainable development of the Socotra Islands special institutional arrangements and set up of legal framework are needed. We work to strengthen biodiversity conservation and island wide administration on integrated manner with local, national and international stakeholders.

Furthermore, we focus on enhancing the capacities and the awareness of the of the local community, NGOs and CSOs to increase the local community participation in sustainable natural resources management. We also promote benefit sharing between poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation in the protected areas located both in Socotra Island and the mainland.

We assist the government to comply and address national obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with particular focus on the Convention’s Article 6 and the CBD COP Decision X/2 through updating of biodiversity strategy development which is a significant contribution to Yemen’s efforts towards implementing the CBD Strategic Plan 2011-2020 at the national level.

Facts & figures

  • ŸWater resources are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Per capita water use of renewable resources is 125 cm compared to 1250 cm in the Middle East
  • ŸTwo-third of the population live in the rural areas and their livelihoods depends on agriculture
  • ŸIn addition to scarce water resources, agriculture lands are threatened by desertification, wind and water erosion, only 1.5 % of land areas is covered by forest 
  • ŸClimate change studies indicate that Hodeida and Aden cities are vulnerable and will be affected by sea level rise
  • ŸThe total Green House Gasses (GHG) emissions in 2000 were estimated about 25,684 Gg CO2-equivalent
  • Nearly half of the population has access to improved water whereas approximately quarter of the population has access to improved sanitation services.

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